Green Cities

These urban areas are working to make their neighborhoods (and the planet) healthier and more sustainable.

By Beth Huxta

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Greening in Progress
These cities didn't make the grade in our research, but we see hopeful signs of change.

Los Angeles
Population: 3,849,000

Smog and celebrities—that's what L.A. is known for. And while the City of Angels has the nation's worst air quality (according to the American Lung Association), many Hollywood celebrities are using their star power to generate attention for green power. More and more of them are arriving on the red carpet in hybrid- and biodiesel-fueled cars and electric sports cars, instead of gas-guzzling limos. It's a start.

Detroit
Population: 871,000

Forbes magazine rated Detroit one of America's dirtiest cities. The flight of industry and residents has left 40,000 vacant lots behind. By joining the forces of the Detroit Agriculture Network, the Greening of Detroit group, and the Earthworks Garden, the Urban Gardening Resource Program is converting once-fallow land into vibrant urban farms to feed and educate residents

Houston
Population: 2,144,000

Urban Harvest, a nonprofit dedicated to building communities through gardening, offers classes on organic gardening, supports outdoor learning in schools, and organizes the Bayou City Farmer's Market (urbanharvest.org).

Las Vegas
Population: 552,000

The driest city in the United States—averaging only 4.5 inches of rainfall a year—and the fastest-growing population-wise (according to the 2000 census) faces serious environmental challenges just to sustain its current rate of growth. But just 3 miles from The Strip is the new 180-acre Springs Preserve, which features an 8-acre desert garden and 2 miles of trails through Las Vegas valley's diverse landscape. The preserve offers a variety of workshops for residents and visitors, from birdwatching to composting (springspreserve.org).

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